Beginning in January of 2005 I teamed-up with 13 other American National Insurance Company employees to start yet another vanpool from the mainland to Galveston, Texas. There are currently six vanpools carrying ANICO employees to the island five days a week, and one commuting from the island to our South Shore Harbour facility on the mainland. Vanpools can offer employees an alternative; which, before you know it, becomes a routine. It’s a simple routine – arrive on time, leave on time and arrive back home on time. Less stress with more of your paycheck left in your pocket at the end of the month.
I’ve worked for American National for over 12 years and commute from the west side of League City to Galveston Island, which is about a 60-mile round-trip. I’ve always driven a larger truck or sport utility vehicle, so I was used to paying more for gas. Before I started vanpooling, I spent an average of $250 to $400 for gas per month on just my commute to-and-from work alone. I’ve been through at least six sets of tires, not to mention multiple brake jobs, front-end component replacements, two or three windshields, constant maintenance and other daily-driver wear and tear.
As a former member of another vanpool and as the primary driver of this one, I average only spending $45 to $65 per month for my commute; and that’s with the roller coaster costs of fuel over the past couple of summers. As for the maintenance of our van, it’s covered under our lease!
So what about the routine? The routine is to arrive at a designated location with enough time to board the van prior to the morning departure time, and then leave your office with enough time to board the van prior to the afternoon departure time. It is not a hard routine to follow. I used to be a Type A, get-out of-my-way guy until I got into the routine. Whether it’s due to the vanpool routine (or age), I’ve been more relaxed and more time-efficient over the past year-and-a-half.
Routine aside, our van strives to operate a little differently, or should I say … we drive to a different beat. Even though we consist of insurance professionals who work in a very conservative business environment, I’ve named our group the Vanimals. We keep it real and at the same time, we keep it fun. We are somewhat flexible with our departure time because every once in a while, life throws you a curve.
As the primary driver, I’ve found that it’s fun to mix things up a bit, so the drive doesn’t get stale. We take alternate routes through Galveston for change of scenery, listen to a variety of music or most of the time just talk with each other. We do have quite a cast of characters sharing our commute, which makes for some pretty interesting conversation.
Special thanks to METRO and VPSI for making it possible for us to have a convenient and trouble-free commute. They have always been there for us, and have really helped make our “routine” as simple as possible. I just wish that I would have jumped on the vanwagon much sooner!